Chinese billionaire and founder of JD.com Richard Liu has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a former University of Minnesota student who claimed he sexually assaulted her in her Minneapolis apartment after a night out with wealthy Chinese executives in 2018.
Richard Liu, a Chinese billionaire and founder of JD.com, resolves a US rape accusation.
Attorneys for both sides announced the settlement late on Saturday.
No settlement sum was made public.
In light of growing government monitoring of China’s technology sector, Richard Liu, the former CEO of Beijing-based e-commerce business JD.com, resigned last year. Richard Liu has denied raping Jingyao Liu, and prosecutors never brought any legal action. Both parties’ counsel referred to the interaction as “a misunderstanding” in a joint statement.
“Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu had an incident in Minnesota in 2018 that led to a misunderstanding that garnered a lot of media attention and caused the parties and their families much hardship, “added the joint statement. “To minimise future hardship brought on by the case, the parties decided to lay aside their differences today and resolve their legal disagreement.
Just two days before the civil trial was scheduled to start on Monday in a Minneapolis courthouse, the settlement was made public. A jury comprising five women and seven men was chosen on Friday to hear the case.
Richard Liu is well-known in China and a member of the group of businesspeople that, starting in the late 1990s, developed the nation’s internet, e-commerce, mobile phone, and other technological businesses. On Saturday, Forbes pegged his net worth at $10.9 billion.
The alleged incident, according to Jingyao Liu, took place in 2018, while Richard Liu was in Minneapolis for a week-long residence as part of the University of Minnesota’s doctor of business administration China programme, which is aimed at high-level Chinese businessmen.
Jingyao Liu, a citizen of China, participated in the programme as a volunteer while enrolled at the institution on a student visa. The Associated Press normally does not identify those who claim to have been sexually assaulted, but Jingyao Liu has consented to her identity being made public.
According to the lawsuit, Richard Liu was in his mid-40s and Jingyao Liu was 21 at the time. They are unconnected.
Richard Liu, also known as Liu Qiangdong, was detained in August 2018 on suspicion of felony rape, but prosecutors decided not to press charges because of the “deep evidence flaws” in the case.
In 2019, Jingyao Liu filed a lawsuit against Richard Liu and JD.com, claiming wrongful detention, violence, and sexual assault.
The case received a lot of media attention as China’s #MeToo movement was taking off. On Chinese social media, Richard Liu’s fans and detractors ran vigorous PR efforts. Censors removed several accounts that backed Jingyao Liu for “violating regulations.”
In her case, Jingyao Liu claimed that she had to drop out of school in the autumn of 2018 in order to seek counselling and medical attention. Her lawyer said that although she has now graduated, she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. She demanded both compensatory and criminal penalties from Richard Liu.
Her lawsuit said that she was requesting a sum more than $50,000, which is the minimum amount required by Minnesota law for any larger claims. She was anticipated to request that the jury grant considerably more.
According to the complaint, Richard Liu and other executives went to a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis the evening of the alleged attack, and at Richard Liu’s request, one of the men brought Jingyao Liu.
She stated in her complaint that Richard Liu told her she would disgrace him if she didn’t join in the toast to her as she felt pressured to drink.
According to Jingyao Liu’s police interviews and text messages examined by The Associated Press, she said that Richard Liu molested her after the meal in spite of her objections. She said he violated her in her flat. She once sent a pal a text message saying, “I begged him don’t. But he paid no attention.
Police were called by her friend, who then proceeded to her flat. According to authorities, Jingyao Liu reportedly informed one officer, “I was raped but not that type of rape.” When prompted to further, she shifted the subject and said she was terrified since Richard Liu was well-known. The intercourse was “spontaneous,” she said, adding that she did not want the authorities to become involved.
Richard Liu was freed, according to the police, because “it was uncertain whether a crime had actually occurred.” Richard Liu said during a subsequent interview with an investigator that the lady “enjoyed the whole procedure very much” and that the intercourse was consensual.
According to authorities, Jingyao Liu threatened to contact the media if the police sergeant would not allow her to speak with Richard Liu’s lawyer. Jingyao Liu stated during the phone call that she didn’t want the case to be published and that “all I need is payment money and an apology for,” according to the recording made by Richard Liu’s former attorney.
It was anticipated that a recording of the phone call would be used as evidence in court. Jurors were also anticipating seeing surveillance footage from the restaurant, its outside, and the hallways of the woman’s apartment complex.
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